Elizabeth Taylor and Puerto Vallarta

  • Born February 27, 1932. London, England

  • Died March 23, 2011. Los Angeles, USA

  • Spouses: Conrad Hilton Jr., Michael Winding, Mike Todd, Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton, John Warner, Larry Fortensky

  • Awarded Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, 2000 New Year's Honours List.

  • Her AIDS organization AMFAR raised $83 million in the 12 years following its creation in 1985.

Major film stars are never forgotten, we owe them countless hours of entertainment and amusement. Each character they manage to embody and that we admire, follow us throughout our own life.

Among the many famous personalities, you've probably heard many a time the name of one of Hollywood's legends, Elizabeth Taylor, the Lady of the violet eyes and a true rival of Marilyn Monroe.

Born in England in 1932, she was brought to the US by her parents, seeking to escape the dangers of World War II. After settling down in Los Angeles, California, Francis Lenn Taylor, Elizabeth's father decided to open an art gallery, which also was, among other things, a promotional space for the beauty of his daughter, whose eyes of unusual color were to captivate several talent scouts at the time.

Elizabeth Taylor in Puerto Vallarta 1963
Elizabeth Taylor 1963

  • Did not attend The 75th Annual Academy Awards (2003) due to her opposition to the Iraq war.
  • 1963: the highest paid American business executive earned $650K & President J. F. Kennedy's salary was $150K, she received at least $2.4 million.
  • 1963: Andy Warhol's portrait of her sold for $ 23,7 million at a Christie's auction in NYC (14 November 2007).
  • Nominated to 6 Academy Awards, won two (Best Actress, BUtterfield 8 & “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”)

Her career took place mainly in the United States and along with Marilyn Monroe, were the two most important movie revelations in the 1950s and 60s. In 1999, she was named seventh "Greatest American Screen Legend" of the first hundred years of US movies, by the American Film Institute.

She was the muse of important directors like John Huston, Vincent Minnelli, and Richard Brooks and shared the stage with luminaries such as Tracy Spencer, Richard Burton, Rock Hudson, Montgomery Clift and James Dean.

The description above is simply a summary of her career as a Hollywood star, shortened into a few paragraphs, something we can experience through her movies. However, we can scarcely remember (only through reviews and stories written by others), her life away from the cameras.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

Her personal life was as intense, passionate and dramatic as any of her movie characters. Her engagement in charitable work, her support in the fight against HIV and AIDS and her participation as proclaimed Zionist, even her scandalous, but passionate love life, including her eight marriages, of which a highlight is her relationship with Richard Burton, all attest to her passion for live and love.

Tidbits of this era were scattered by the world press in search of the best headlines of the moment. But it was never fully experienced as it was in a small coastal town of Jalisco in Mexico, that had the pleasure of closely savoring a very significant moment for the actress and having them live there at a time when they were known for their itinerant lifestyle.

Elizabeth Taylor & Burton
Elizabeth Taylor & Burton

Elizabeth Taylor has a special place in the memories of the Mexican people, especially the town of Puerto Vallarta that would witness her romance with Burton.

Her affair with the actor was the juiciest gossip of the moment in the media. The controversy stemmed from the fact that both were actually married when they started their affair. Elizabeth was married to Eddie Fisher, also a scandalous relationship right from the start, as he was the former partner of one of her best friends. Burton meanwhile was married to Sybil Williams, actress and mother of two of his three children.

Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton & Sergio Toledano, Gringo Gulch PV
Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton & Sergio Toledano, Gringo Gulch PV

Adding to this, was the fact that Elizabeth was at the peak of her acting career, she had just starred in the mega-production “Cleopatra” (1963), which was precisely where she met Richard Burton.

She is very well remembered for that interpretation and mainly for her million dollar salary, which was the largest amount any actress had received up until then (equivalent to some 10 million dollars of today).

Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra
Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, 1963

Although the actress arrived in Puerto Vallarta, in 1963, solely to accompany her lover, Richard Burton, (and “protecting” him from Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr and Sue Lyon, knowing full well that Richard was what you would nowadays call a sex-addict) while he interpreted the defrocked Shannon in the starring role of the movie “The Night of the Iguana”, directed by John Huston. She was delighted with the place, just like the rest, and chose to stay here for a much longer period (her last trip to PV was in 1989).

Liz Taylor
Liz Taylor

Puerto Vallarta was in the eye of the hurricane, the media were attracted like bees to the honey, by the story, the actors and Hollywood elite, there was nothing sweeter for a reporter at that point in time. Their relationship is strongly linked to this town, where there still is evidence of their time together.

The bridge over the street, Zaragoza, Puerto Vallarta
Zaragoza Street with the Love Bridge from Taylor's house (left) to Burton's residence on the right.

We can, for example, still find the residence (what’s left of it) where they lived for many years (Taylor sold it in 1990), which consists of two houses connected by a bridge over the cobblestone street, sometimes called the bridge of love and sometimes the bridge of hatred, due to the ups and downs, fights and reconciliations of the couple.

For history fans, the mere mention of Casa Kimberley, the name that was given to the couple's residence there, is synonymous with passion and movie history. This place is capable of teleporting visitors to the 1960s, years when love blossomed for these movie legends and was the starting shot for the metamorphosis Puerto Vallarta went through later on to provide the best options for those tourists attracted by the famous love story.

Elizabeth Taylor, George Hamilton at Las Palomas with Nelly and Guillermo Wulff
Elizabeth Taylor, George Hamilton at Las Palomas Restaurant on the Malecon with Nelly and Guillermo Wulff (1986)

However, much of the general public largely despised (or was envious of) the ups and downs of the relationship between Taylor and Burton, some labeling them as perverts, even some of the PV locals, who were much more conservative at the time.

Here’s a list of four other reasons, we will remember Elizabeth Taylor:

  • She’s the person that gave Michael Jackson the nickname “King of Pop”.
  • Voice of Maggie Simpson: fans will certainly remember an episode called "Maggie's first word" in which her voice was heard for the first time. Elizabeth Taylor lent her voice for that episode.
  • Elizabeth Taylor Eyes: If anyone ever talks about purple eyes, you will always find references to Elizabeth Taylor. The myth of her eyes is still up for debate today.
  • A third part of the trio of famous "discoverers" of paradise in Mexico, she kick-started a tourism avalanche just by her mere presence, along with John Huston and Richard Burton. They unwittingly helped the blossoming of Puerto Vallarta into a world tourist destination.

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